Born on this date in Atlanta, Georgia, Baptist minister Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) fused the Christian philosophy of love with Mahatma Gandhi's teachings of nonviolent protest to lead the American civil rights movement in the name of freedom and equality.
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend," King believed.
On August 28, 1963, King marched Washington D.C. in favor of equality legislation and gave his speech of a lifetime on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
In front of a sea of 200,000 faces, King's inspirational words looked to a bright future of racial harmony. "I have a dream today," he declared passionately. "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.'"
At age 35, King was the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," he said, a man of courage and conviction, a hero who bridged and empowered. Despite pressure and threats, he maintained his belief that "nonviolence is our most potent weapon."
Martyred in Memphis, King once asked to be remembered as "a drum major for justice...peace...[and] righteousness." In 1986, the third Monday of January became a national holiday in the United States, celebrating King's birth and accomplishments.
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